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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 11:24 am | Fair 61º


Santa Maria Council Denies Permit to National Discount Store

The Santa Maria City Council has voted to deny a permit to a national discount store that would have allowed the chain to occupy a downtown shopping space it already owns.

The council voted 3-2 Tuesday to deny an occupancy permit to National Stores Inc. DBA Fallas Discount Stores to move into a vacant building the company bought in March within the Downtown Specific Plan area at 201 Town Center West.

After debating the benefits of allowing another discount store into an area governed by the Downtown Specific Plan — approved in 2008 to re-establish downtown Santa Maria as a “destination” and to attract outsiders to the region — a slim majority of council members directed staff to continue the matter to the Aug. 6 regular meeting so city staff could draft a resolution denying consent, according to Larry Appel, director of community development.

Mayor Alice Patino and Councilmen Bob Orach and Willie Green supported the denial, while Jack Boysen and Terri Zuniga were opposed.

A permit was required because the 85,900-square-foot shopping center space, which formerly housed Mervyn’s, has been vacant since 2008, and is much larger than the 5,000-square-foot threshold that requires council consent, according to the downtown plan.

A presentation from city staff explained that six stores selling discount goods already operate within the downtown plan area, with 41 total throughout Santa Maria.

City Manager Rick Haydon said Fallas had already undertaken some minor tenant improvements in the space, and had planned to open as soon as possible, or at least by fall back-to-school shopping season.

“Without the permit, Fallas cannot operate in the store, despite their ownership and significant improvements that they have completed,” Appel told Noozhawk.

City staff on Tuesday said the store, located across Broadway from the Santa Maria Town Center, would have created 80 to 100 new jobs and generated more than $50,000 annually in sales tax revenue.

Council members also considered — but opted against — an option that would have established a 45-day moratorium period, during which city staff would have compiled a more extensive background on the impact and benefit of bargain stores for final decision at a later date.

Had the council approved the permit, Fallas would have been forced to comply with conditions established by the City Planning Commission, including an expectation of cleanliness and general maintenance.

The two-story building has been vacant since 2008, when Mervyn’s closed after 20 years in the space.

Since then, the space has remained empty except for one-time use by Closeout Club and seasonal use by Halloween City, according to the city.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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